Category: Liberty & Human Dignity and Politics

By Thomas Paine

Published in 1795

Reference #1079

First Revised Edition. Thomas Paine’s “The Rights of Man. For the Use and Benefits of All Mankind” is an abridgement combing Parts I and II. Paine revised “Rights of Man” with a new preface while in prison from December 1793 through November 1794; he was accused of sedition by the French Montagnard government of Robespierre. The manuscript was smuggled out of prison and printed.

Part I entitled, “Rights of Man: Being an Answer to Mr. Burke’s Attack on the French Revolution” was first published in 1791. It defended the French Revolution based on the idea that political revolution is acceptable when the natural rights of the people are not being safeguarded by its government. Further, Part I was an argument against Edmund Burke’s attack on the French Revolution in his work “Reflections on the Revolution in France,” published in 1790.

Part II, “Rights of Man; Part the Second. Combining Principle and Practice,” was published in 1792. It completely developed Paine’s political philosophy and was the first time Paine used the phrase “age of reason.” As a result, Paine was tried for treason (in absentia) in England and was found guilty in 1792 but was never executed. “Rights of Man” was extremely popular among English radicals and sold 200,000 copies by 1793.